A comprehensive vision of a more sustainable working world.
Corporate-sustainability consultant Burt’s well-designed, smoothly readable nonfiction debut centers on what she asserts are systematic, fundamental changes that human societies must make in the near future in order to survive. The author looks at traditional ways of generating energy, transporting people and materials, growing and distributing food, and relating to nature, and she determines, as many others have, that present patterns aren’t sustainable, even as they appear to be “locked on autopilot.” Burt’s book lays out meticulously comprehensive proposals for changing them, aimed primarily at two kinds of readers: policymakers in a position to “facilitate meaningful job creation,” and everyday people who are willing to do the meaningful work of instituting planned changes and keeping them going. “Do we want future generations to look back at our time as the Great Unraveling,” she asks, “or should we instead choose a more sustainable path so that our grandchildren see this era as the Great Turning?” The related “Great Pivot,” as the author lays it out, puts this philosophy into practice. If the pressing, urgent goal is to reduce carbon emissions and waste in all sectors of daily life, the creation of large numbers of new jobs in many areas will be necessary; Burt enthusiastically elaborates on these areas, including building and enhancing bicycle-related infrastructure, designing walkable communities, tearing down wasteful buildings, massively increasing recycling, restoring healthy forests, and creating more small, organic farms. The author’s narrative is buoyantly can-do and forward-thinking, with a refreshing real-world pragmatism that shows how previous, small-scale sustainability projects have been put into practice. Much of what the author proposes will be done against the backdrop of what she calls the “new American Dream,” which will no longer be characterized by relentlessly increasing consumption (“stability, not upward mobility”); those who’ve been left behind by the traditional American dream, she asserts, would find newly created, more meaningful jobs in the transition from a “take-make-waste linear economy to a circular economy.” Overall, this book will likely inspire a great many readers hoping for a better future.
An optimistic and detailed blueprint for a sustainable 21st-century world.